LOS ANGELES •George Romero, who gave box-office life to zombies in movies, died on Sunday in Toronto. He was 77.
His death came after "a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer", his family said.
His 1968 cult film, Night Of The Living Dead, was made for about US$100,000 (S$138,000) and released when racial tensions were high in the United States.
He told public radio network NPR in a 2014 interview: "We never thought of it being a racial piece at all, never. But because the character was played by an African-American (Duane Jones), you almost don't notice anything else," he added.
Romero went on to add instalments to the Dead series, including Dawn Of The Dead (1978) and Day Of The Dead (1985). Film critic Roger Ebert called Dawn one of the best horror movies ever made.
Romero's Land Of The Dead in 2005 was his largest-budget, studio-backed movie and became one of his biggest hits.
He returned to independent filmmaking with Diary Of The Dead (2007) and described it as one that "comes from my heart".
"I have a soft spot in my heart for the zombies," he told NPR.
"They're multi-purpose, you can't really get angry at them, they've no hidden agendas, they're what they are. I sympathise with them."
Most recently, he tried his hand at comic books, creating The Empire Of The Dead series in 2014.
Published by Marvel, it combines zombies and vampires.
Romero, who was born on Feb 4, 1940 in New York, grew up loving classic movie monsters. He told NPR he did not expect to create a movement with his film.
"All I did was I took them out of 'exotica' and I made them the neighbours," he said.